The Best NAS and Hard Drives for the Home on a Budget of £500
If you are looking at buying a NAS drive (whether it is to move away from the likes of Google Drive or Dropbox, or to just have all of your data in a single controllable location), then it can be a rather intimidating task. For many users, the very, VERY first hurdle they encounter is the price tag! NAS systems, although not massively expensive, do always seem a little more expensive than you think – especially given the modest internal hardware used inside sometimes when compared again DIY PCs. Add to this the fact that these devices ALSO need to be populated with storage media and you can be looking at a price tag that can easily spiral out of control. Add to this that a lot of users simply do not want/need all the enterprise features and just want a system that can be used as a backup for all of their desktop and mobile devices, is as secure as possible, can support a good level of 4K/1080p media over DLNA/Remotely (e.g Plex), feature a little bit of camera connectivity for security, Provide a intuative and user-friendly photo album access and all the while having a system that runs smoothly and quietly in the background! Although most NAS systems support all these features to a small/large degree, you will all too often find that the price point and scale of these NAS systems are wildly different! So, today I wanted to highlight the BEST three NAS drives in 2021 that not only provide ALL of the features mentioned (and can run them all at once with ease), but also allow you to purchase the NAS and Hard drives for less than £500. Each solution has its own particular advantages and although each one might better suit a different kind of user, all three are by far the best that each brand can provide (including Seagate Ironwolf NAS hard drives) for this modest price point.
IMPORTANT – Most home users who look at buying a NAS and Hard Drive media at this price point are usually quite focused on Plex Media Server support, as although they will use the myriad of other features and software that these devices arrive with, the lion share of its use will be for a Plex Media Server NAS for their friends and family to connect and enjoy movies, boxsets, albums and their photos. So I have focused a little more on these system’s multimedia abilities than most other services.
If you just want to skip to the end, all three NAS are below, otherwise, scroll through my top 3 NAS for the buyers on a budget! I would recommend you purchase one of the following Three NAS drives:
— Short Version —
Synology DS220+, NAS – Designed to be network/internet-only access, VERY user-friendly, most expensive of the 3, good for Mac users and excellent first Party Software
QNAP TS-251D NAS – Designed to be Network/Internet/HDMI, pretty user-friendly, PCIe upgrade option for a later date, Good for Windows/Android users
Asustor Nimbustor 2 NAS – Quite user-friendly, Best CPU, Best Memory, Network/Internet/HDMI 4K, 2.5Gbe connection (the rest have 1Gbe), Good for Android/Windows users
NASCompares Top 3 Budget NAS for £500 (including Drives and Tax)
All three have their own dedicated browser software access, dedicated mobile applications, backup applications and surveillance software. Below is alot more information about each device.
Best £500 Synology NAS for Beginners – DS220+ and Seagate 4TB Seagate Ironwolf
Synology DS220+, Intel J4025 2.0-2.7Ghz CPU, 2/6GB DDR4 2666Mhz Memory, BTRFS, SHR, 2yr Warranty, Seagate Ironwolf NAS Hard Drive (2x 2TB) = £472 TOTAL
The DS220+ NAS is one that budget buyers have been using as a Plex media server for a lot of 2020/2021. Although the device might look a little modest compared with the more powerful DS920+ or even DS720+, even at this price point it features multiple ports and connections. It is the surprisingly powerful and efficient Synology software that the DS220+ arrives with that means that you are getting a number of key plex options covered by this NAS drive. Arriving with the popular Intel Celeron J4025, the DS220+ from Synology is one of the most popular NAS drives that they have released in a very long time. If you want to stay within the £500 budget, including hard drives and tax, you will be able to find this device for just over £300 tops and that gives you another £200 that you should be able to get a couple of 2TB or 3TB Seagate Ironwolf hard drives for your NAS.
What makes the DS220+ such an impressive device is that it gives you everything you need in a modern device for plex, at a remarkably affordable price. Featuring a transcoding engine (embedded graphics) on that CPU, that Plex pass users will be able to utilise, the performance of media on the DS220+ is pretty impressive for such an affordable NAS drive. Add to that the fact that it is a two-bay device with support of BTRFS as its file system for stability, SHR for a more fluid RAID system that allows you to mix and match drives to increase storage later down the line and an overall sense of stability and user-friendliness in this device. Sure, there are more powerful Synology NAS drives out there for use as a larger scale backup or powerful Plex media server, but at this price level, it is not only the most affordable fully-featured NAS you can buy, but also one of the best examples of what Synology is all about – all for under £500 that includes storage and tax.
Where to Buy
Best £500 QNAP NAS for Ultimate Access – TS-251D and Seagate 8TB Seagate Ironwolf
QNAP TS-251D, Intel J4055 2.0-2.7Ghz CPU, 2/8GB DDR4 2400hz Memory, HDMI 2.0 4K, PCIe Slot 2×2, 2yr Warranty, Seagate Ironwolf NAS Hard Drive (2x 4TB)= £495 TOTAL
As soon as you mention any kind of NAS drive for home or business and Synology, you will of course then mention QNAP. These two brands have been producing great NAS drives for use as local/remote backup servers for years now and the most cost-effective QNAP drive that allows you to get both the device and a good amount of storage space for under £500 is the TS-251D device. The QNAP TS-251D has exactly the same internal CPU+RAM hardware as the previously mentioned DS220+ NAS, with the added benefits that it is a pinch lower in price and features several hardware advantages that, even a budget Plex NAS user, may factor into their media server now or later that are damn near irresistible. Featuring such advantages as an HDMI 2.0 4K 60FPS port to connect your TV directly to your NAS (for media, surveillance, VM use and more) and enjoy media at almost 0-second latency speeds (which is especially useful for 4K playback), the QNAP TS-251D NAS even features a PCIe upgrade slot that will allow you to increase your network speeds at a later date. These kinds of hardware options, as well as the transcoding support at 1080p and 4K at less than £500 including tax and storage, is genuinely impressive. At this price point, you are able to get this and maybe a couple of 2 or 3 Terabyte Seagate Ironwolf NAS hard drives, still leaving you with around £10-20 leftover!
As mentioned, the internal hardware is identical in traditional spec to that of the DS220+, with the same Intel Celeron J4025 CPU and 2GB of DDR4 memory, though in the TS-251D you can expand all the way up to 8GB of memory (the Synology oddly limiting you to 6GB at 2+4GB), further highlighting the upgradability of this NAS and allowing you to buy a budget NAS drive today that can become a much more powerful and useful NAS later. On a software level, QNAP has the QTS platform that is much more catering to Windows and Android users in its design. Whereas Synology try to keep things to Network/internet-only access, the QNAP gives you far more customization in and out of their core system, and the TS-251D gives a much greater balance of access for local, access and internet/network connectivity.
Where to Buy
Best £500 Asustor NAS for Performance – Nimbustor 2 and Seagate 6TB Seagate Ironwolf
Asustor AS5202T, Intel J4005 2.0-2.7Ghz CPU, 2/8GB DD4 2400Mhz Memory, HDMI 2.0a, BTRFS. 2.5G, 3yr Warranty, Seagate Ironwolf NAS Hard Drive (2x 3TB)= £465 TOTAL
One NAS brand that has REALLY accelerated it’s customer awareness this year is Asustor. The release of the Nimbustor series really shook up the NAS world with its incredibly affordable price point, despite featuring some of the very best hardware available on this list. At our £500 price point for a Plex NAS, you can buy the Nimbustor 2 and 4TB of storage (including TAX) with £30-40 leftover, which really does make this tough to beat. from a hardware point. Arriving with an Intel Celeron dual-core processor, the J4005 at 1.5-2.7Ghz per core and 2GB of DDR4 memory, in PLEX that translates to some fantastic performance, supporting 1080p and 4K playback, along with a good chunk of 1080p transcoding and lower-end 4K.
What makes the Nimbustor 2 so much better than the TS-251D or DS220+ for Plex power buyers is that despite me including it in my budget Plex NAS list, it actually provides a great many features that even £1000+ NAS drives do not. That powerful Gemini lake dual-core processor promises that you will get great plex performance (though less than a modern Pentium Gold or higher i3/i5/i7). Alongside this, all of the file system or hardware features from the TS-251D and DS220+ are here in one form or greater. Such as BTRFS support and that HDMI 2.0 output, that lets you playback 4K Plex media locally to your connected TV at 60FPS. However, it is in terms of future connectivity that the Nimbustor 2 really succeeds. Although it is the most affordable NAS on the list today, this device arrives with two 2.5Gbe ports. These ports are completely backwards compatible with regular 1Gbe RJ45 connectivity (found in all homes and offices), but allow your Plex media server NAS to take advantage of greater network speeds in your network environment as your surrounding network and internet equipment evolved over the years. With file sizes getting bigger and bigger, yet our demand for data getting faster and faster, options like 2.5Gbe in the Nimbustor 2 and PCIe upgraded NICs (network interface cards) on the TS-251D are definitely worth consideration. The Nimbustor 2 NAS, despite its low price point, even arrives with a fully-featured and gamer inspired graphical user interface and operating system, ADM. So notwithstanding some great performance as a Plex media server, it also arrives with a myriad of backup and file streaming options available to you.
Where to Buy
I go into alot more detail if you watch the video below, In short, I focus on this primarily because of their affordability (including hard drives and tac), as a Plex Media Server, but also because they will do EVERYTHING else on your too list. They may seem a pinch higher $ than you might have wanted to spend, but in terms of future-proofing, smooth access and ease of use, these are pretty much as good as it gets right now at this price point.
If you interested in how each NAS system and its software perform/present themselves, take a look below at my video review of the Synology DSM 7, QNAP QTS and Asustor ADM NAS GUI and system software:
Synology DSM Software
QNAP QTS Software
ASUSTOR ADM Software
Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS
I hope this helps you with choosing the right NAS for your home and family. Thanks for reading!
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